Press release

Press briefing - morning 5 February 2013

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The Prime Minister's Spokesperson (PMS) answered questions on equal marriage, Scottish independence and the EU Council.

The PMS provided a readout of the Cabinet meeting from that morning. After an update on legislative business the Cabinet discussed the Queen’s Speech, the Chancellor provided an update on banking reform and the PM looked ahead to the EU Council meeting later in the week.

Equal marriage

Questioned on the PM’s approach to the Marriage (Same Sex) Bill vote, the PMS said that the PM had set out his view on same sex marriage on numerous occasions but there were a range of personal views in the House. There was a free vote and the PM would be voting later that evening.

Scottish independence

Asked what the PM’s reaction was to the Scottish government setting a prospective date for independence, the PMS said that the PM would continue to make the case for the union. The government would also produce a series of papers presenting the case for the Union.

EU Council

Setting out the Cabinet discussions on the upcoming EU Council, the PMS said that the focus would be on trade, foreign affairs and the EU budget. Broadly, discussions would be following on from EU Councils at the end of 2012. Specifically on the EU budget, the PM had set out his view that spending needed to be reduced further from the plans set out by President Van Rompuy.

At the worst the PM wanted a real terms freeze in the budget and if this was not agreed, a deal would not be achievable. The UK continued to work with other member states but negotiations could take some time. Questioned on Germany’s stance, the PMS said that he could not speak for the German government, but there was agreement that EU spending would need to be reduced. Asked whether the PM would be discussing the EU with US Vice President Joe Biden, the PMS said that the PM was expected to discuss EU-US trade and international cooperation on a series of issues.

Mid Staffordshire NHS trust

Asked whether the content of the report on the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust was discussed at Cabinet, the PMS said that it was not. The Health Secretary and PM had a copy of the report and the PM would be making a statement on it tomorrow.

Queen’s speech

Questioned on the Queen’s speech, the PMS said that the government’s mid-term review had clearly set out the priorities for the second half of the Parliament. The Queen’s speech could be expected to closely relate to that agenda.